Rango (with Johnny Depp)
When an unfortunate accident lands someone’s awkward pet chameleon in the desert, he decides to take a sojourn out into the wilderness in search of his calling in life. What he finds is a town called Dirt, an isolated, dried up wasteland in need of a hero. Knowing the part he needs to play in order to fit in, Rango is born and ready for battle. That is of course, until true battle presents itself.
I remember not so long ago when animated flicks were few and far between, so when one did come out it was usually quite a sight to see as it was still a genre trying to prove itself. These days however, there’s a new animated flick or two popping up every week, sometimes even more, making them hard to keep track of. I’ll be honest, RANGO didn’t look one bit enticing to me from a conceptual, storyline or even trailer standpoint. So this lizard walks into a bar…yep, I think I’ve heard that one before. There’s an oppressed town, a dude posing as a hero, who in the end rises up to meet the challenge (yawn). Yep, I’ve DEFINITELY heard this one before. So how did RANGO fare? Both good and bad, but mostly bad.
On the good side, this has to be the most beautiful animation I’ve ever seen. Each and every detail is a crisp, well shot work of art. The desert, the wind, the moon, even the moisture on the lips of these critters, we get it all and the result is pure eye candy. Gore Verbinski may have set sail from the PIRATES OF THE CAREBEAN franchise (and I can’t say that I blame him after the last one, that franchise is dead in the water if you ask me) but clearly he and Johnny Depp are still in deep and the two make for a pretty good team here. The voice talent from Depp is awesome but then again, he’s the man when it comes to zany off the wall characters so I wasn’t worried there (I’m still prone to SECRET WINDOW myself). Isla Fisher, Bill Nighy, Alfred Molina, how could you not win with voice talent like that? But sadly that’s about where the good dries up.
On the bad side, let me start by saying this film isn’t exactly funny, nor is it something that should be aimed at children (which is ironic seeing as how I was elbow deep in kids at the theatre). The humor here was pretty low brow, when there was humor at all, and as for the tone, subtext and overall presentation of the film, it was all a bit off. First off, Rango went into a trance type mode every now and again which was an acid trip in itself and reminded me a bit of FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS. Was Depp going for this? Could be, I wouldn’t be surprised if he acted these parts out with a grin but there was a messed up feeling in my gut as I looked around at the wide eyed looks of confusion on kids’ faces around me. I’m not fond of these tricky Hollywood tactics for films posing as children movies when they’re clearly not and this was clearly not.
RANGO is a film that much resembles the character; a lone ugly duckling that just doesn’t belong with the rest of the films in this genre. I kinda dug the acid trip where Rango runs into Clint Eastwood (voiced by Timothy Olyphant) who just happens to be combing the desert for fish hooks in a golf cart packed with…Oscar statues? Hrmm, not sure where they were going with that but again, this sets the strange tone of awkwardness I’m talking about. As for good ol Rango, well, you know how this story ends, you’ve seen it a million times before, maybe not on acid, but I don’t think you need to. If morbid curiosity gets the better of you sometime down the road, by all means check this out but I’m chalking this one up to a big waste of time, albeit a beautiful one, but still a waste. What a shame.